An absolute cracker to start the third season. Action, tension, some wonderful acting and a fresh and original ending.
The premise is fairly straightforward. John's cousin and his family have been told they must leave their land to make way for a new highway. Rather than go quietly, they decide to stand and fight. John, Zeb and John-boy must choose whether to stand by their kin or stay on the right side of the law. It's a gripping story, and one which must have happened many times over back then.
Guest actress, Beulah Bondi, gives a brilliant performance as the family matriarch, Martha Corinne. In fact, I'd go as far as to say she owns this episode. Martha Corinne's steadfast refusal to yield to the government is what drives the story, and when she orders her family to stand their ground, they willingly take up arms.
The Waltons have always come across as rather rustic, but here they are the ones trying to drag their cousins into the modern world. It's a great turnaround. Up in the mountains, the world does seem that much older, and by the time the gun battle comes along, it doesn't feel at all out of place.
For once, the story ends sadly. We are led to believe that John will persuade the state government to leave his cousin's land alone, but his appeal fails and Martha Corinne is forced out of the home she built seventy years before. Seeing her sweep the floor for the last time is a touching and powerful scene and, for me, helps make this the best installment so far.